#FIBAAsia2015 Pre-Tournament Rankings

In every week leading up to the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, tipping off on September 23, your resident Asian basketball addict will be ranking the 16 teams bound for Changsha, China, based on their respective player compositions and preparations for the biennial tournament.

Though these rankings are entirely the opinion of one man and have no mathematical or theoretical grounding, keep in mind that player injuries, eligibility issues, training camp reports, and pre-tournament game results will all have considerable impact.

So… let’s go.

1 - China (Group C)
- This team has been training since March. They are maybe the biggest team in the field. And they have homecourt advantage throughout the entire tournament. China is renowned for playing a notch or two better at home, so they are in great shape. Not even a really bad loss to Serbia, 55-95, in Belgrade can sink them lower than #1.

2 - Iran (Group A)
- Iran is the defending champion. Team Melli is expected to be very strong again this year with the same old faces doing the same amount of damage to their foes. Only reason Iran isn’t #1 is how they got beaten by China’s B Team twice last week in a pocket tournament.

3 - South Korea (Group C)
- The Koreans recently went 1-1 against Taiwan in two tune-up games. They benched some of their big guns in the first game and lost by 3, but then proceeded to blow Taiwan out in the second game with a more complete set of players. As always, Korea’s strengths are its depth and consistency.

4 - Taiwan (Group D)
- A win over the Koreans should do wonders for Taiwan’s current level of confidence. They look relatively healthy, too, with Lu Cheng-Ju the only key guy skipping their trip to Korea because of personal matters. He should be back in the fold for the Jones Cup, where the Taiwanese are heavy favorites to contend for the title.

5 - Kazakhstan (Group D)
- The Snow Leopards have been pretty quiet, but that doesn’t mean they don’t pack a wallop. On the contrary, big things are expected from this team after they finished among the top four in last year’s Asian Games WITHOUT naturalized guard Jerry Johnson. With him back in the fold, things should continue to look up.

6 - Japan (Group A)
- After an embarrassing suspension months ago, Japan has successfully been able to return to the good graces of FIBA. They also started training camp in earnest about two months ago, with former NBA player Yuta Tabuse leading the pack. Twin wins over a Czech Republic select team augur well for Team Hayabusa.

7 - Jordan (Group C)
- Coach Rajko Toroman had to cancel an international training camp for his boys because of budget constraints, but that doesn’t mean Jordan won’t be a force to be reckoned with. With veterans Zaid Abbas and Sam Daghlas back to lead the team, look for Al Nashama to be a tough nut to crack again this year.

8 - Philippines (Group B)
- Let’s see. Half of the team that played in the 2014 FIBA World Cup backed out, the team started training camp just a little less than two weeks ago, and they canceled a planned European training camp and will plunge straight into a micro-tournament in Estonia. Something smells fishy in Manila. Oh, and did I mention that naturalized player Andray Blatche looks a little too plump and is still recovering from a groin injury?

9 - Lebanon (Group D)
- Loren Woods has been the confirmed naturalized player for the Cedars. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing given Woods’s age and the fact he is fresh from an injury that sidelined him for much of the past LBL season. Also, rumors are swirling about Fadi El Khatib having trouble securing a release from his CBA squad (maybe similar to the rumor hounding Blatche weeks ago) due to insurance concerns.

10 - Qatar (Group D)
- Iconic player Yaseen Musa has officially retired and top local PG Mansour El Hadary still doesn’t look fit enough form his ligament tear injury. Tired old veterans like Erfan Ali Saeed and Daoud Musa Daoud will have to carry the slack along with returning naturalized player Trey Johnson.

11 - Palestine (Group B)
- I’m excited to see the Palestinians play in their first ever FIBA Asia Championship, but I’m not too excited about their chances. They are good enough to place second in Group B, but every game after that is going to be a major uphill battle. With Omar Krayem and Nicola Fadayel back in the team, however, this may just be the best Palestine team ever assembled.

12 - India (Group A)
- India was supposed to explode into prominence this year, but the departure of coach Scott Flemming and Satnam Singh Bhamara’s decision to focus on his NBA prospects both cast a shadow over India’s chances of making a dent in #FIBAAsia2015. Still, if the terrific trio of Vishesh Bhriguvanshi, Amjyot Singh, and Amrit Pal Singh can play really well, anything can happen.

13 - Kuwait (Group B)
- Nothing much from this Gulf nation, but their not-so-bad showing in the 2014 Asian Games promises that they will be, at the very least, a competitive bunch who should still make it out of Group B ahead of…

14 - Hong Kong (Group B)
- Even at full strength, Hong Kong would have a lot of trouble in Group B, but I’m not even sure if key guys like Lo Yi Ting and Lee Ki will play. Needless to say, Hong Kong will not be expected to make any big ripples in this tournament.

15 - Singapore (Group C)
- Singapore is fresh from winning the bronze medal in the 2014 SEA Games, so their confidence is at an all-time high. That, however, will not be enough for them to beat any team in Group C. 

16 - Malaysia (Group A)
- Filipino coach Paul Advincula recently proclaimed that his boys are ready and won’t back down from any challenge in #FIBAAsia2015. That’s a good attitude to have for a team that, in all possibility, may finish dead last.

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